Chinese Bronze Age Finds Gold and Silver Coins
The Chinese Bronze Age is thought to have spanned a period of at least 1,600 years, beginning in the Xia Dynasty around 2000 BC and ending in the Western Han Dynasty around 100 BC. Over this time bronze was the preferred material for all kinds of vessels, utensils, and ornaments.
At the time of the Shang Dynasty bronze items were used as an indication of status. During the Zhou Dynasty they symbolized wealth. Royalty and the aristocracy often used bronzes for decoration, entertainment, and during ceremonies. Bronzes were often buried in the grave of the owner. The significance and importance of these items in bronze age society was symbolized by their design and their great size and weight. Towards the end of the Bronze Age, bronzes had lost their importance as an indication of status, and so bronzes from this time are much lighter and have a more practical design, being more functional pieces rather than decorative.
The great length of the Bronze Age in China means that there are many bronze finds which can tell historians about changes in Chinese society over the period. These finds also represent some of the finest work of ancient Chinese artisans.
The People's Bank of China produced three sets of coins, a series comprising twenty-four gold and silver coins featuring twelve of the most significant bronze pieces found dating from the period, commemorating these Bronze Age finds and celebrating the significance of the Bronze Age in Chinese history. Below are the gold coins from the three sets, issued in 1981, 1992, and 1993. The three silver sets were released in 1990, 1992 and 1993.